June 1, 2005

Mormon Crickets Begin Assault in Nevada

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Mormon crickets have begun their spring assault in the Reno area, marching into a new subdivision in Spanish Springs, north of Sparks. It's the sixth straight year of infestation. Last year, the crickets infested some 12 million acres of Nevada and experts predict this summer's infestation will equal that or exceed it.

The bugs - which munch lawns, gardens, crops and each other - are turning up from Winnemucca to Battle Mountain and in areas north of Reno such as Palomino Valley and Bedell Flats.

Their presence in northern Spanish Springs is of concern because it is the most developed area infested by Mormon crickets in the Reno region since they overran parts of Cold Springs in 2002.

State entomologist Jeff Knight says he is worried that the crickets are moving into more heavily populated arrears instead of doing most of their damage in the desert.

"It's beyond gross," said Debbie Dixon, who moved into her new Pebble Creek home in Spanish Springs with husband Jeff and family just last week.

When the crickets massed at the Dixon's new home, Jeff Dixon was moving furniture inside.

Instead, Dixon began using a leaf-blower to blast the insects off the siding of his house.

"It was unbelievable, just amazing," Dixon told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "You couldn't even see the color of the wall there were so many."

Next week, the Department of Agriculture will begin aerial spraying for crickets over 80,000 acres of public land near Elko. It completed spraying of 30,000 acres north of Reno last week.